Brandon Small’s Galaktikon
02. Prophecy of the Lazer Witch
05. Truth Orb and the Kill Pool
06. You Can’t Run Away
07. Arena War of the Immortal Masters
09. On My Way
Whether you know it or not, you’re likely familiar with Mr. Brendon Small. He’s the creator and mastermind behind the cult animation hit Home Movies and more topically, Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse, which features the best-selling melodic death metal band Dethklok. With hit television shows and two Dethklok records under his belt, Brendon Small is at it again and spreading his wings for another musical endeavor in Galaktikon, a self-proclaimed “high stakes intergalactic extreme rock album.” Galaktikon sees Brendon Small trade in his death metal growls as Dethklok’s Nathan Explosion for a more melodic vocal approach, creating something catchier and almost operatic in some senses.
One may draw parallels between Galaktikon and Devin Townsend‘s modern classic Ziltoid The Omniscient, which isn’t totally unfair; both records are hammed up concept albums revolving around sci-fi action. In sound however, they are worlds apart. While I’m sure Brendon would like to distance Galaktikon from Dethklok, they’re obviously and undeniably cut from the same cloth. The instruments, tuning, production, and tone are all the same, and with Brendon’s sense of melody, there isn’t much different between the two projects other than Brendon’s singing voice (which we’ve heard previously on Dethklok’s ‘Hatredcopter’) and some slight experimentation with genre (‘Deathwaltz’ takes on the fuzzy guitar distortion of sludge, perhaps even a Queens of the Stone Age influence) and the disinhibition for achieving more melody overall (the lead to ‘Prophecy of the Lazer Witch‘ is ridiculously haunting).
Brendon wasn’t lying when he said Galaktikon was filled with characters and a premise that takes itself too seriously. On initial listens, Brendon’s vocal approach may seem silly, as he really goes for some over-the-top grit, from the all-out James Hetfield impression on opening ‘Triton’ and the gravely bellowing of ‘Deathwaltz.’ Once it becomes clear and accepted that while Galaktikon should be taken somewhat seriously from a musical and artistic standpoint, it is purposefully meant to be this over the top and cheesy melodic metal record, it really grows.
Galaktikon does fall short of some of its intentions, though. It’s not as epic as it could have been (or wants to be), as many of the tracks don’t feel like they’re connected in any way. Though the one-two punch of the two final tracks in the instrumental ‘Dangertits‘ and the borderline progressive ‘On My Way’ bring the album to a close in a big way, Galaktikon feels somewhat unbalanced. Perhaps some of the influences Brendon Small mentioned in the promotion of Galaktikon were overstated, but the record is more or less straightforward in his established style, with very little (if any at all) in the way of modern black metal and Queen. There are audible hints of Weezer and Smashing Pumpkins in ‘You Can’t Run Away,’ so the mark wasn’t missed entirely.
The album does excel in general musicianship, though. Small is a fantastic guitar player, and can capture some extraordinary riffs and melodies at times. Brendon’s vocal style may take some getting used to, but when he’s not hamming it up, he proves to be quite a competent singer. Hopefully he gains some practice and confidence and reflects this side of his abilities as Pickles the Drummer in Dethklok again. Speaking of Pickles, the skills of Gene Hoglan can never be overstated. The dude is a legend, and his masterful presence behind the drums on Galaktikon helps make the rhythm section that much more driving.
When promoting Galaktikon, Brendon said that this record should be seen as almost like the companion piece to a comic book, which is a thought process that really helps to establish more appreciation towards its craft as a concept piece. Hopefully this record isn’t the only medium in which we’re subjected to this universe of characters. Someone needs to throw money at Mr. Small so a comic — or better yet, a movie or mini-series — can be created to adequately portray the story of our hero. The story doesn’t feel like it’s over, and hopefully there’s more to be seen in the future.
Brendon Small’s Galaktikon gets…